For years, I’ve waited for a live action Wonder Woman. First it was the floated Joss Whedon script, then the possible live action Wonder Woman with Adrianne Palicki, then back to another live action film. Then DC witnessed the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and they got the lead out.
They launched Man of Steel, then followed it up with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad. I’m not going to spend a lot of time lauding or lampooning the efforts. What I am going to say is that DC succeeded where Marvel dropped the ball.
Marvel dropped one very significant ball during the progression of their last dozen or so films and it was one where they were perfectly poised to be first, and possibly amazing–and then they didn’t do it. The character of Black Widow as portrayed by Scarlett Johansson is a force to be reckoned with, a powerful hero who fights alongside gods and supermen. Instead of giving Black Widow her own movie, they kept her as the powerful supporting character and female lead in their other titles.
So, Diana of Themyscira is first once again. She was the first female driven super hero title of the 20th century and she is the first female driven super hero blockbuster of the 21st century.
Note, I said first female driven super hero blockbuster, not film. We’ve had female driven super hero films in Elektra and Catwoman. Yes, I shudder to mention either because as much as I wanted them to be great, Elektra was boring (seriously!) and Catwoman was simply bad. Both failures were made worse because both featured talented actresses. Let’s not dwell on these footnotes, let’s look at Wonder Woman.
A Movie of a Lifetime
Yes it’s a big mantle to lay at the feet of this film directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, and many more. You see, for me, that’s exactly what this film represents. I was a huge fan of Wonder Woman as a child, I grew up watching Lynda Carter kick ass on television and I did the Wonder Woman spin and played bullets and bracelets and adored her lasso of truth.
Flash-forward to the 80s, I marveled at George Perez’s reinvention of Wonder Woman as he took her all the way back to her clay-molded origins on the island of Themyscira, and relaunching her into man’s world not with a secret identity, but as an Ambassador of Peace for the Amazons who would fight to defend the world.
Heady stuff for a young pre-teen becoming teen girl in the 80s when we were on the tail-end of the sexual revolution and still fighting sexism. I nursed a dream, that like Diana believed, the world would have evolved beyond this by then.
In my Freshman English class, I wrote a paper comparing the Amazons of Wonder Woman to the Amazons of mythology and I used George Perez’s comic book run as my citable source. My teacher hesitated, but then asked to see the source material. I hauled my plastic wrapped and carefully protected comics to the school and entrusted them to her for a weekend.
On Monday morning, she not only signed off on my paper, but admitted she wanted to read the next issue. She and I bonded over this mutual love for the Amazon princess.
Over the years, I saw Wonder Woman through many incarnations in comics, animated films and literature. Still, no live action film. Batman out the wazzoo (some good, some amazing, and some just bad). The same with Superman, and then the super hero renaissance came along as Hollywood creators, my age, who grew up reading the same books I did started making movies and television.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off with a bang with Ironman, Thor, and eventually Captain America and more. They paced it out, built the anticipation up. DC appeared on the CW in the form of Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and finally, Supergirl.
In 2009, we even got an animated Wonder Woman which was amazing in quality and story, still–no live action movie.
Then Gal Gadot was Cast
I don’t pretend to understand the course of the DCCU, at times it feels rushed as hell as though they are trying to catch up to what Marvel did instead of taking their time to flesh it out. At the same time, we don’t need another Batman or Superman origin movie. We really, really don’t. Yet, they were making Batman v Superman and it felt way ambitious and I was nervous.
Then I heard they cast Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. The casting startled the hell out of me. Gal was fantastic in the Fast and Furious films. I loved her accent, her look, and her talent, but she seemed too small to be an Amazon. The physicality worried me.
Then came Batman v Superman, and yep, like I said, there were issues except there were two shining stars amidst the grit–Ben Affleck as Batman (he rocked it) and Gal Gadot as Diana (Wonder Woman).
Her appearance was dead on perfection, her mannerisms, her part in the climactic battle scene and damn if it didn’t leave me hungry for more. She won me over in a handful of scenes and I have waited (im)patiently for her own movie.
The Wonder Woman Experience
Last night, Mini and I sat down in a theater and we were transported. Since the first trailer dropped, I maintained if the movie was only half as good as that trailer, then that would be a win.
It was more than half as good.
It was more than as good as the promise.
It was so much more. It was an experience from beginning to end. I laughed. I cheered. I cried.
In the end, Mini and I celebrated. I’ve waited over 40 years for this movie and I wasn’t remotely disappointed!
We’re All Wonder Women
Years ago, on the series, Diana explained about feminine mystique as the material the bullet proof bracelets were made of and they had to protect it from the Nazis who invaded Paradise Island. Yeah, it was cheesy, but I believed anything Lynda Carter said, she always embodied Wonder Woman to me.
Today, I’m adding Gal Gadot to that list. She is also Wonder Woman. So is Patty Jenkins, the director.
We can all be Wonder Woman, and that’s as it should be.